This chapter discusses the role and nature of the PhD viva in some detail. I start by defining the purpose of the PhD viva and what it is setting out to assess. I make the distinction between the assessment of the thesis and the assessment of you, the candidate. In order to do so, I first explore the concept of the doctorate and doctoral standards. This leads to a discussion of the concepts of ‘contribution to knowledge’, ‘criticality’ and ‘independent thinking’. The oral examination process is explained, leading to a discussion of alternative models for the viva with reference to the approaches taken in different countries, including the private and public defence systems. A typical timetable for a PhD viva is set out, and a sample regulatory framework is used as an example. The findings and conclusions of recent research into the PhD viva by a range of academic authors are reviewed, giving you pointers for further reading into the topic, should you wish to do so.
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- The PhD Viva
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